There is a myth that you must stop for a full three seconds at a stop sign before proceeding, and if you don’t stop for the complete three seconds, you are guilty of a crime and should be charged. This myth is simply not true. Unfortunately many police officers do not have a great deal of traffic training and believe this myth to be true and will hand out stop sign tickets to people that have not stopped for a full three seconds!
The Highway Traffic Act states that you must stop and yield the right of way to all traffic and proceed once there is no hazard to do so:
Stop at through highway
136. (1) Every driver or street car operator approaching a stop sign at an intersection,
(a) shall stop his or her vehicle or street car at a marked stop line or, if none, then immediately before entering the nearest crosswalk or, if none, then immediately before entering the intersection; and
(b) shall yield the right of way to traffic in the intersection or approaching the intersection on another highway so closely that to proceed would constitute an immediate hazard and, having so yielded the right of way, may proceed. R.S.O.1990, c. H.8, s. 136(1).
This means that if there is no hazard to proceed, as long as you came to a complete stop, you can legally continue on your way without stopping for a full three seconds! Many people receive unfair and unjust stop sign tickets when they have obeyed the law completely. Why pay an unfair ticket and have your insurance rates raise when you can fight it and keep your record clean?
Before you pay a stop sign ticket, make sure you know exactly what the penalties against you are. Not only do stop sign infractions carry a fine amount, but they also carry 3 demerit points and can increase your insurance rates. When you receive a stop sign ticket you will have three options:
- Pleading guilty
- Pleading guilty with an explanation
- Trial / not guilty
If you pay a stop sign ticket you are automatically pleading guilty to the charge and will have to pay the fine along with receiving 3 demerit points on your record which will likely increase your insurance. A plea of guilt with an explanation is not a trial and your ticket will not be eliminated off of your record. The trial option is the only way to fight for dismissal of the ticket or for a drastic reduction in the fine or demerit points.